So what changed his mind? Well, after much soul-searching, Jackson says he happened to be reading about the American Civil War and was struck by the way many were forced to take action for a cause they believed in, even if it was an inconvenient battle to fight.
"It’s not fun," he said of the situation. "I wouldn’t call it weird, it’s just not fun. I love Jon to death, but I love Rashad, too. And so it’s not a position I enjoy at all. It’s not something I like, but it’s something I think I have to do."
This will no doubt come as a betrayal to Evans, who has already made no secret of how little he thinks of Jackson. The fighter blames Jackson for creating the situation which forced him to leave Jackson’s training camp after Jones became Lightheavyweight champion. Evans had been training at Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2005. Jones joined in mid 2009.
Given this history, Evans may have every reason to be aggrieved at Jackson. After all, it was Jackson who was keen to promote the spirit of "camaraderie" at his gym, where teammates have never fought each other, and it was his short-sightedness that created the situation between rising star Jones and Evans.
Jackson fully concedes that he was responsible for the situation saying he didn't have protocols in place to prevent it. Instead, it was simply an unwritten rule that teammates wouldn't fight each other.
But Jackson is already facing the prospect of campmates UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre and interim champ Carlos Condit facing off. In that situation Jackson has decided that he won’t corner either fighter, but coaches from his camp will take each side. If he claims to love Evans as much as he says he does, why doesn’t he extend him the same courtesy? After all, the sight of Jackson in his opponent’s corner strategising to defeat him will be a no less galling for Evans.
Part of that reason is that Evans has already severed all ties with Jackson and set-up his own rival training camp – the Blackzillians. As Jackson explained:
"I felt I had kind of a duty to the team... What I mean by that is Jon Jones is on the team, Rashad has left the team and has made it pretty clear he’s not coming back. My personal feeling, if I wanted to be a little selfish, I would say, ‘I don’t want to deal with any of it. I don’t want to be there at all’. But it has to mean something to be on a team. It has to mean something, and I felt I had a duty to do that, because Jon’s on the team, so it’s my responsibility to corner him. Even though it’s a really hard decision, I decided to go with it."
So is Jackson right? Has Evans’ decision to sever all ties with him and set-up a rival training camp reason enough for him to corner against him? Or is Evans right to feel betrayed that a man who helped him become the fighter he is and knows his style better than anyone will be plotting his downfall?
Is Jackson right to corner Jon Jones against Rashad Evans at UFC 145?
Yes (81 votes)
No (28 votes)
It's irrelevant (18 votes)
127 total votes